Critical Reflections on Employability-Related Learning Experiences

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Introduction

Building a career requires the coverage of various aspects and attention to detail in the chosen area. It is possible to state that being employed within a particular field does not necessarily implicate success and full potential realization for an individual. The concept of employability helps to understand the significance of designing meaningful work journeys and participation in the society and economy. Different definitions of employability were suggested since the emergence of this concept. The point is that its explanation can depend on the context, period, and economic situation in which it is observed (Williams et al., 2015). Consequently, one can state that employability is a changing concept that has been fluctuating throughout time and countries. The purpose of this paper is to contemplate the notion of employability, address how it has been enhanced for me, and evaluate which personal and professional development areas require further improvement.

The paragraph above mentions that employability is not a fixed idea, and it received numerous interpretations. One of the employability definitions suggests that it is “a set of achievements that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupation” (Guilbert et al., 2015:72). The achievements implicate various skills, gained experiences, personal characteristics, opinions, and understandings of the aspects related to the selected field. Besides, it is crucial to understand that employability does not concern only the individual, but also should positively benefit the community, workforce, and the economy (Guilbert et al., 2015). Thus, discovering one’s full potential, linking together acquired knowledge and abilities, and integrating continuous learning and work on improvement, constitute the core of employability.

The following paper will discuss positive experiences and how they have influenced my perception of a future career, binding it to the enrichment of employability. This deliberation will focus on specific cases from my background and will utilize research to support the findings. It is also crucial to delineate employability limitations, objectively assessing the areas that need development and closer attention. Finally, this piece of work will present an action plan, outlining the established goals and providing academic justification for them, and the evaluation.

Positive Employability Experiences

Various experiences, achievements, connections, new knowledge, and skills contribute to the foundation of employability and a better understanding of what one aspires in their professional life. I believe that one of the primary incentives that motivated me to move forward within the chosen area was the decision to get an education. The rapid expansion of higher education infers the preparation of the students for the working world, which seeks “to meet standards on employability” (Suleman, 2016:170). Hence, obtaining a degree can become a decisive factor for an individual when it comes to the choice of future career and goals establishment. In such a way, enrolling in the university and supporting practice with knowledge became substantial for my employability.

It is vital to mention that studies significantly contributed to my critical thinking and reflection abilities, which is an essential skill for personal and professional development. Improving critical thinking skills can be a helpful tool to assess the environment, make decisions, and determine where to focus the energy in work, training, or life choices (Cottrell, 2017). Consequently, education and the experiences and situations faced in the academic field became one of the primary contributions to my employability and building of my future aspirations and career objectives.

Another essential factor is the continuous engagement in sport and physical activities. Without any doubt, my chosen career implies physical education, but what is meant is the fact that I have always been active besides classroom or obligatory activities. Curiously, one of the researches revealed that there is a positive link between sport participation and earnings (Griffiths et al., 2017). One should notice that higher earnings do not mean employability enhancement but can become one of the relevant concepts. Satisfaction with one’s professional life implicates the contentment with financial reward and, as mentioned before, provides the advantage to the economy and community. Therefore, besides education and unremitting sports engagement, other factors became vital for my employability and perception. Among them, there are establishing connections with professionals in the industry, gaining experience in related fields, such as coaching, working towards achieving the awards and qualifications, and carefully shadowing the supervisors and experts.

Employability limitations

Developing employability requires gaining various skills and knowledge, including the work on personality traits advantageous to the chosen career and role. In my opinion, one of the most significant areas pursuing the building of personal training instructor and advisor is communication and effective listening. It is possible to say that throughout the experiences, in particular those described in reflective diaries, I managed to improve those skills substantially. Nevertheless, active listening requires more attention and development from my side. According to Eggenberger (2019:1), active listening is “a vital career readiness skill that employees are looking for in college graduates.” In other words, this particular ability plays a crucial role in obtaining the aims and in building successful relationships with clients.

One more critical aspect is emotional control and patience, especially when it concerns the work with individuals. For instance, in the case when one of the gym members lost his phone, and together we had to look for it for more than an hour, it took a lot of patience. It is crucial to be calm not only on the outside but also on the inside, to be sincere, and not to lose control. Therefore, I believe that it is vital for me to improve those abilities and to learn to stay calm under stressful circumstances. Emotional intelligence helps to develop self-awareness, self-management, and use the feelings and moods for self-motivation and working towards achievements, which positively contributes to employability (Jameson et al., 2016). Thus, possessing the ability to control one’s emotions can generate benefits for various spheres of life and boost professionalism and performance.

Another essential aspect that needs to be improved for building employability in my case is leadership skills. My future job should not necessarily entail leading positions, but working with individual clients implicated an ability to lead and motivate them. Leadership and influence are the soft skills essential for employability because they help to supervise the work of others (Tsitskari et al., 2017). Hence, it is directly connected to the field of personal training, and I think that I need to improve this aspect to establish a successful practice.

Goal and Action Plan

Creating employability and working towards achieving the desired career implies a thorough and thoughtful goal-setting process. The goal-setting theory developed by Locke and Latham suggests that “the higher the goal, the higher your performance” and specific high goals create more excellent results than setting no goals or a vague one (Latham et al., 2018:130). In such a way, it is vital to establish realistic objectives, which will serve as a great assistance to future achievements.

One of the goals is to become a personal trainer within the context of an online fitness business, in which I will provide workout programs and motivate people to live healthier and more active lives. Thus, I need to work on finding efficient ways to establish positive customer relationships. The area that can be helpful to achieve this goal is developing organizational skills because they emphasize team working and customer relationship management (Graham, 2017). It is vital to invest time and resources into the development of those abilities and to design a precise plan of action to reach this goal on my map.

Another crucial purpose that I am seeking is writing a book and offering it on an online basis, expanding to kindle direct publishing. I should work hard on my writing skills and enrich my knowledge with real-life and academic theoretical experiences to create a useful piece of work that will be able to truly help others. Still, for the book to be successful, I need to focus on the first goal in my action plan. I am focusing on providing high-quality service and expertise to the clients and on word-of-mouth expansion. It is significant to remember that word of mouth is “a powerful driver of consumer behavior,” which is critical for my aspirations (Fulgoni and Lipsman, 2015:18). Besides, I need to continue the work on employability skills to utilize the planned strategies.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is essential to mention the significance of timely evaluation throughout the action plan in different stages of the goals’ achievement process. I will look at my clientele’s size and at the feedback to assess the movements towards the aim of becoming a personal instructor. One should always remember that goals can serve “as a means of influencing productivity in organizational and industrial settings” (Ramnerö and Jansson, 2016:1). Careful setting of high intentions, continuous evaluation, unceasing strive for new knowledge, skill acquirement, and experience can generate positive results, enhance employability and help reach new horizons.

Reference List

Cottrell, S. (2017) Critical thinking skills: effective analysis, argument and reflection. 3rd ed., London: Palgrave Macmillian.

Eggenberger, A.L. (2019) ‘Active listening skills as predictors of success in community college students.’ Community College Journal of Research and Practice, pp. 1-10.

Fulgoni, G.M. and Lipsman, A. (2015) ‘Digital word of mouth and its offline amplification: a holistic approach to leveraging and amplifying all forms of WOM.’ Journal of Advertising Research, 55(1) pp. 18-21.

Graham, D. (2017) ‘Embedding employability behaviours.’ Journal of Work-Applied Management, 9(1) pp. 35-50.

Griffiths, K., Bullough, S., Shibli, S. and Wilson, J. (2017) ‘The impact of engagement in sport on graduate employability: implications for higher education policy and practice.’ International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 9(3) pp. 431-451.

Guilbert, L., Bernaud, J.L., Gouvernet, B. and Rossier, J. (2015) ‘Employability: review and research prospects.’ International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 16(1) pp. 69-89.

Jameson, A., Carthy, A., McGuinness, C. and McSweeney, F. (2016) ‘Emotional intelligence and graduates–employers’ perspectives.’ Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 228 pp. 515-522.

Latham, G. P., Mawritz, M. B. and Lock, E. A. (2018) ‘Goal setting and control theory: implications for job search.’ In Klehe, U. C. and Van Hooft, E. A. J. (eds.) The Oxford handbook of job loss and job search. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 129-141.

Ramnerö, J. and Jansson, B. (2016) ‘Treatment goals and their attainment: a structured approach to assessment and evaluation.’ The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, 9 pp. 1-11.

Suleman, F. (2016) ‘Employability skills of higher education graduates: little consensus on a much-discussed subject.’ Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 228 pp. 169-174.

Tsitskari, E., Goudas, M., Tsalouchou, E. and Michalopoulou, M. (2017) ‘Employers’ expectations of the employability skills needed in the sport and recreation environment.’ Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, 20 pp. 1-9.

Williams, S., Dodd, L.J., Steele, C. and Randall, R. (2015) ‘A systematic review of current understandings of employability.’ Journal of Education and Work, 29(8) pp. 877-901.

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ChalkyPapers. 2022. "Critical Reflections on Employability-Related Learning Experiences." February 16, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/critical-reflections-on-employability-related-learning-experiences/.

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